After a five-month warm-up of hotel-mezzanine food service and takeout lunch, M Pche, a.k.a. Momofuku Midtown, makes its official (lunch-only, no-reservations) debut next week, possibly as early as Wednesday. What was once Town restaurant has been redesigned by Thomas Schlesser as a stripped-down, artfully simple series of distinctive spaces. The front door opens into a takeout branch of Momofuku Milk Bar, selling the bakerys signature Compost Cookies, Cereal Milk, and Crack Pie to go. Beyond is the host stand and the sleek Balcony Bar, open all day for breakfast, lunch, and a limited bar menu until 11 p.m. Down a flight of stairs, backlit stretched-canvas panels cocoon the roughly 85-seat dining room, home to a crisscrossed communal table, a four-stool raw bar, and a single esoteric artwork (Bad Route by Miguel Caldern).
Schlesser calls the layered juxtaposition of eco-friendly materials like plywood, particleboard, and fiberboard a metaphor for the mixing of cultures evident on chef Tien Hos trilingual menu, which applies French and Vietnamese words (and English descriptions) to Asian-inflected bistro staples. B tartare is made from Niman Ranch beef, scallions, and mint; raie a la Dufresne tweaks brown-buttered skate with lime and pea shoots in a sly nod to wd-50 chef Wylie; jowl croutons and tripe transform the classic frise aux lardons. To drink, there are inventive new cocktails, housemade soft drinks, and wines ranging from Moroccan Syrah to Red Hook ros.
M Pche, 15 W. 56th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-757-5878